Northwest Arkansas Wedding and Portrait Photographer
Wes Ryan, Storyfisher & Taleteller
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Northwest Arkansas Wedding and Portrait Blog

Wes Ryan is a Northwest Arkansas based portrait and wedding photographer specializing in professionals, families, children and pets! Wes Ryan serves as a photographer in Fayetteville, Rogers and surrounding areas in Arkansas. Check out my photography blog, where I talk a little more in depth about my clients, the photography work I love, and an occasional portrait photography adventure.

Road Trip Panoramas: Palo Duro Canyon

I'm not sure how many times I've driven through Amarillo. Maybe ten? And with every passing I saw this splotch of green on my GPS with "Palo Duro Canyon State Park" in bold over it. I'd heard of it a few times before-- it always came up as a "hidden treasure" on one of those clickbait articles. It's the largest canyon in Texas and second largest canyon in the United States. The entry fee is $5. Five bucks. I'm sold. 

So, when I drove from Arkansas to Denver last week (a trip I regularly make) I decided to go the West/North route through Texas with a stop in Amarillo instead of gunning it through Kansas. Side note... there are two good times to be in Kansas: and that's sunrise and sunset, and both in the middle of nowhere, which is very easy to find.

Moving on. My wake up time for this visit was oh, about 5:30AM. Undaunted by the park hours posted on the park's website, I figured I could head down and find some access roads to get views on the perimeter (legally) before they opened, then scoot over to the front gate promptly at 8AM and rush to the overlook. The thing is, you don't see anything at all before you get to the front gate.

BUT... The office is open from 9AM to 5PM, in which you can pay cash and receive change, and the self-pay station is available for those who want to visit during off-hours. They leave the gate open so people can do this. Which I definitely did. With the first hints of color showing on the horizon, I shoved some cash into an envelope and zipped toward the first overlook. Just a heads up... if you self pay, make sure you have change. If you choose not to pay, the trained robot coyote will corner you in a rock basin and take a limb as punishment. If you don't have small bills, then make a donation, but don't ever not pay. If you absolutely must, you can always return to the front gate during office hours and ask them to get your envelope out of the lockbox, and give you change.

What a difference ten minutes can make. In the first shot, the sun hadn't crested just yet, but I was getting amazing colors in the sky. And normally I'd suggest bracketing these, but instead I used a split ND filter (Neutral Density). It's a filter that you can rotate so the dark half stops down the bright sky and allows you to expose the whole frame more evenly. It's not always perfect, but it will at least get you back into the limits of your camera's sensor. 

I've actually never seen wild turkey before. There were about ten of these gobblers pecking around and the males were pretty easy to distinguish from females. Here, Goblonius contemplates global warming as Bertha looks on.

Story of my life, am I right? If you don't remember the last time you saw one of these signs, then you need to take a mental health day. 

These were actually taken in Colorado. The trip from Palo Duro to Denver is exactly 7 hours, which meant I still had plenty of daylight to burn when I left around 9AM. 

Of course, I had to pull over and take a composite of Pike's Peak, just south of Colorado Springs. This is one of my super-photos, which can be printed several feet wide. Of course, it wasn't until I looked through the lens that I saw a huge herd of antelope spread out in the valley below.

Here's the antelope at 100% magnification. What you see on the screen is how it would appear in print. In fact, this will be available on my store soon, so look for an update on that. In the meantime, feel free to check out my other prints available for sale. They're great as a gift for the traveler in your family.